Protecting Human Rights on the Internet

Cyber-censorship on the Rise

In 2016, Amnesty International documented people being arrested solely for peaceful expression online in 55 countries

Fighting back against cyber-censorship

Cyber-censorship is now a global phenomenon, and it is not limited to websites being blocked. People were arrested just for what they said online in 55 countries in 2016.

Governments are using sophisticated new technologies to silence spy on, harass and track critical voices.

Mass surveillance is also a form of censorship, since many activists actively self-censor when they know that the authorities are listening in to all their communications. In Belarus, an Amnesty International investigation showed how potentially limitless, round-the-clock, unchecked surveillance has a debilitating effect on free speech and dissent. Amnesty International has also uncovered well-orchestrated troll campaigns in Mexico to track and harass particular individuals and journalists through platforms like Twitter, and documented cyber attacks on activists in Qatar and Nepal. 

In principle if I am talking indoors, or on the phone, or writing emails, I assume it all gets to the KGB

Independent journalist in Belarus

Cyber Day

Number of online news outlets blocked by the Ethiopian government, along with WhatsApp, in an effort to crush dissent and prevent reporting of attacks on protesters by security forces.
1 million
The number of people who signed a petition calling on President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden
Number of the 11 tech companies analysed by Amnesty International who provide end-to-end encryption on all their instant messaging apps – a basic privacy protection

Protect privacy on Skype

Your Conversations on Skype are not private

Many of us depend on Skype to share precious moments with family, catch up with friends, or plan work with colleagues on the other side of the world. But our intimate Skype conversations are not as private as we think.

Governments can spy on us, and criminals can hack our personal data.  Human rights defenders and journalists around the world are particularly at risk from unlawful government surveillance when they use Skype.

Even though it’s made by Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest tech companies, Skype still doesn’t have end-to-end encryption, which is the one of the best ways to protect our calls and messages from prying eyes.

Lots of other popular messaging services, including WhatsApp and Apple Facetime, have end-to-end encryption – so why not Skype?

Tell Microsoft to protect privacy on Skype

  • Microsoft must introduce end-to-end encryption for all communications on its Skype service.
  • Microsoft should notify users about the level of encryption applied to Skype and how this helps to protect their rights to privacy and freedom of expression. 

If they don´t kill you, they ruin your life. The trolls generate a constant climate of fear, and it stops people from publishing.

Alberto Escorcia, Ciudad de México

What you can do to protect yourself online

There are many steps you can take to protect yourself from surveillance and censorship online. Here are three of them.

1. Use strong and different passwords (and remember them!)

You’ve heard this a million times but can you remember 30 different complicated passwords? Of course not, nobody can. You still need to do it however, as large data breaches happen all the time. If your password is stolen and you use the same one for other services, those other accounts will also be at risk.

2. Set up two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra step you need to log-in to your account. In most cases, it’s very simple and you only need to do it when you use a new device or once every few weeks. A very common form is a text message with a six-digit code you receive by SMS on your phone after entering your password. This makes it much harder to access your accounts as, even if someone managed to steal your password, they would also need to have your phone to be able to log in to your account.

3. Use HTTPS

The link in the address bar of your browser starts with either “http” or “https”. The first one means that the connection between you and the website is open, i.e. anyone who taps into your internet connection can see everything you’re writing or looking at. This is bad.

Find out more really practical ways to protect your privacy online here:

Some people say that for China internet is a gift from God. However, for internet users in China, it is more like dancing in shackles.

Chinese blogger Su Yutong forced to flee the country